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Accelerators in Research

The Super Microscope

Particles with high momentum have short wavelength.

The accelerator is today's most powerful microscope. The resolving power is linked to the wavelength ( ) of the accelerated particles, which de Broglie in 1924 showed to be

 = h/p,

where h is Planck's constant and p is the momentum (equal to mv) of the particle. This formula shows that the larger the momentum the smaller is the wavelength. Particles accelerated to high momentum and energy thus have short wavelengths, which makes it possible to achieve the high resolution needed to explore the interior of matter. At high particle energies the interior of matter can be explored with a resolution that other probes – like visible light – cannot achieve.


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